First Things Editor Takes on "Republican Party Illusions About Gay Marriage"


R. R. Reno, Editor of First Things:

Ken Mehlman is either deluded or disingenuous. The former chairman of the Republican National Committee is among those now trying to bring the Republican Party around to the cause of gay marriage. In today’s Wall Street Journal he made his case.

... Even more ridiculous is the notion that redefining marriage makes government less intrusive. The notion of civil rights that fuels the push for “marriage equality” requires pumping up the power of the state to bulldoze older traditions and attitudes that stand in the way of the full acceptance and affirmation of homosexuality. It’s going to lead to litigation, regulation, mandated school programs and “inclusivity” seminars, and lots of other legislation.

... Mehlman needs to either open his eyes or be honest: the gay rights movement can’t succeed unless and until the apparatus of the state is brought to bear on traditional institutions that don’t treat homosexuality and heterosexuality equally. It’s not just religious institutions. Basic cultural practices such as sex-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms will be revised—and always under pressure from the courts and government bureaucracies tasked to ensure LGBT rights.

This is in the nature of all progressive projects. The push toward redefining marriage involves creating a new possibility that would not otherwise come to pass if traditional institutions and attitudes were left alone. How will this change be effected. What will have sufficient power to overcome the always substantial solidity of the status quo? Government, of course. That’s why the progressive project is always essentially political.

... Case in point: by Mehlman’s way of thinking, the most basic institution of civil life, marriage itself, is a creation of the modern state to be redefined as the political will sees fit. If we can redefine marriage at such a fundamental level, then what is there in society other than individual choices and the power of the state?